Richard Brown’s recently published retrospective, The Last of the Hill Farms: Echoes of Vermont’s Past, showcases the photographer’s most cherished subject: Vermont’s hill farmers. A new exhibition at the Saint Albans Museum (SAM) – on loan from the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury – offers visitors an experience of Vermont that Brown began to photograph in the 1970s.
“The Last of the Hill Farms,” a limited engagement exhibit, will be on display from July 17 through August 10 in the Bliss Room, located on the third floor of the Museum.
The lives, landscapes, and time period Brown so lovingly captured are available for viewing through a range of large and small format, finely detailed, photographic prints – which were hand-made by the artist.
Brown recalls: “It was a world of Jersey cows and Belgian work horses, wood-burning Glenwoods, and dirt-floored basements full of canned applesauce, mustard pickles and stewed tomatoes in glinting rows on sagging wooden shelves. Autumn mornings, when the sharp fragrance of wood smoke and rotted manure laced the air, when the frost was thick on the land, and the maples began to blaze, I thought I’d died and gone to photographer’s heaven.”
“The Last of the Hill Farms” is a collection of moments born from the land and the people—then crafted by Brown’s careful hand with preparation, patience, and a bit of serendipity. His photographs reflect his fondness for a time when Vermonters earned their livelihoods from the land without much aid from internal combustion engines. His affinity for the subject matter was matched equally by his desire to see it documented and preserved.
Brown reflected on the timelessness of his subjects, writing: “Here the twentieth century was stretched more thinly over its predecessor than elsewhere, and with curiosity and persistence it was possible to catch glimpses of the nineteenth century lurking just beneath its surface.”
Access to the exhibit is included with Museum admission. Visitors may also explore other aspects of regional agricultural history through SAM’s “Farming Franklin County” exhibit.
The Saint Albans Museum is ADA-accessible and located at 9 Church Street in St. Albans; SAM is open for the 2019 season from June 5 through October 4: Wednesday – Friday, from 11am-4pm, and Saturday, from 10am-2pm. A member-supported nonprofit, the Museum’s mission is to preserve and share the history and heritage of St. Albans, Franklin County, and northwest Vermont through exhibitions, educational programs, arts/music performances, and special events. SAM participates in the “Blue Star Museum” and Association for Children’s Museums “Museums for All” programs to offer eligible families complimentary admission. Passes may also be checked out at your local participating Franklin-Grand Isle county library. For more information, please call (802) 527-7933 or visit www.stamuseum.org.